For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to THE BODY COACH JOE WICKS.
Described as the Jamie Oliver of nutrition, Joe Wicks is the UK’s first Instagram superstar, the UK’s best selling author of 2016 and a TV phenomenon with more than one million viewers tuning into his debut Channel 4 show.
With the publication of his third nutrition and exercise book, Joe tells HuffPostUK that the hardest lesson he’s had to learn in his phenomenal year is becoming a businessman, looking after 45 members of staff and recruiting like-minded people to work for him.
He says: “I’ve had to learn what it means to be a manager and hire people. I’m at the office 3-4 days a week. I want to be there as much as I can. I’d love to be there every day, I love it.”
What do you do to switch off from the world?
Switching off is putting my phone down for the day. It was hard at the beginning but I’ve got used to it. Either going for a nice bike ride, or going somewhere for a spa weekend. I’ll leave the phone in the car and check it in the evening. My business can now run itself without me checking in every minute of every day.
I built my business on my phone. I don’t have an ipad or anything, everything is on the phone, so it is for me letting go of that. If I go for dinner, when I leave my phone behind, I’m so much more engaged and present. I have a much nicer evening.
When I’m out with my friends, we do this thing now where we put our phones on the table, and challenge each other not to pick them up, and it feels like we used to, before the era of mobile phones.
How do you deal with any negativity that comes your way?
The negative sentiment on my social media is quite low, because the people there have sought me out and want to be there. It’s only when I’m thrust into other people’s spheres, like on ‘Celebrity Juice’ or a TV advert or something. That’s when they’ll say, ‘Who’s this shouty ball-bag?’ or ‘Get off my TV’. I just laugh at it. I am shouty, that’s how I got attention, that’s how I stood out from a crowed of people, but I’m having fun. Even if I’m really tired, I’ll do it. There’s always one person saying, ‘Get your hair cut’, but there are more people enjoying it. There’s so much positivity that the odd negative comment doesn’t really hurt me.
Personally, no one likes to be called names, but I have a tight close group of friends that I’ve known since I was 16. I’m not really going out to nightclubs, and when strangers meet me, it’s overwhelmingly positive.
When and where are you at your happiest?
With my friends going somewhere new. We live for those 4-5 day holidays. We went to Vegas in September, and we just came back from Dubai. It breaks your year up a little bit, having something to look forward to. I just like being with my friends and family, having fun.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My manager Bev always said to me, ‘You’re going to have a book deal, just believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve so much. The more you believe, the higher you can set your goals.’ We could all do so much more if we didn’t fear failure.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
I’ve built this online business and had to expand really quickly, so I’ve had to learn about recruiting staff, and finding mini Body Coaches that really believe in what I’m doing. In the early days it was difficult getting people, but now I have an office of 45 staff, and they’re really passionate and want to be there.
I’ve had to learn how to be a businessman really quickly, because I’ve gone from working on my own to having this big company, so I’ve had to learn what it means to be a manager and hire people. I’m at the office 3-4 days a week. I want to be there as much as I can. I’d love to be there every day, I love it.
What would you like to tell your 13-year-old self?
I spent a lot of time worrying about what I was going to be, and not being really sure, I had no direction or motivation, I wasn’t that ambitious and once I decided to have a go at the personal training, it felt like this was what I was supposed to do. So, I suppose it’s ‘Don’t worry too much about the future, just do what makes you happy in the day and success will come’ whether that’s financial or not, but doing what you love is success in itself. Don’t be frightened to changed direction. I was going to be a PE teacher, but that changed, and now I have eight books to write.
It’s a personality thing, I feel like people respond to me, I’m authentic, I’m genuine, I have a bad day, I don’t live like a saint, it’s simple, I cut through all the stuff, I’m constantly giving out free content, so that builds trust and people respond, so when you have a product to share, people are prepared to trust you. It takes a long time to build that trust.
What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
I want to have a family. My brother’s just had a baby, and I’m enjoying my little nephew.
I really want to work with schools, and the NHS and government and make an impact. My book’s done well but I want to think globally. My vision is much bigger than just the UK. Get the world lean, basically.
I’d love to have a little place in Santa Monica, because I hate the winter, so I’d have my summer in the UK and then the winter in LA.
What do you think happens when we die?
I like to think there’s a heaven and hell, that we go somewhere where if we’ve been good people, it’s somewhere nice. And it’s somewhere where I’ll meet all my friends and family again.
When have you felt we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
I often think how small I am on this earth, and I wonder if people are living on another planet, it can’t just be us. Not from a religious perspective, but just realising how tiny we are, and the universe so big, we can’t be the only place. And then I wonder, what came first, and it stresses me out. We’ll never know.
What quality do you most prize in your relationships?
Trust and honesty. If you have those, you can have love. Without those, it’s very hard to love someone. Telling the truth about how you feel, and being trustworthy. If you can be honest and trustworthy, you can love so much harder. Without that, you become this other person that you don’t want to be.
What keeps you grounded?
I grew up on a council estate. There’s money involved in what I do, but it hasn’t changed the person I am. If I became an arrogant prat, my mum and dad, my brother and friends would tell me straight away. I’m not a big spender, I’m not a lavish dude. I’m quite sensible, I’m a saver by nature, I still wear £10 Gap T-shirts, I’m going to build my own house one day, but that’s about it, and the odd holiday.
What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
My little nephew Oscar’s just been born, and someone who follows me on social media sent a lovely blanket that she’d hand-sewn for Oscar. It took her two weeks. That kind of stuff is really lovely, even my nan hasn’t done that.
Joe Wicks’ third book in his ‘Lean In 15’ trilogy - ‘The Sustain Plan’ is out now. Click here for more information.
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